Wednesday, May 30, 2012

At Peace

It's been a very difficult Memorial Day weekend with the passing of my dearest friend Tom Emmons.  Admittedly the right words have yet to come out but I will give it a good attempt.  Tom was working for CPT Corporation when we first met in 1980.  A brilliant engineer, we hit it off well.  In magnetic design lingo Tom was a pot core inductor guy.  This was a type of geometry for an electronic component that had great inductive properties and was self shielding.  In fishing terms it was like a type of reel, it was light weight, had lot's of line capacity, and a great drag.  Over the years one is bound to meet people through your work environment that stick and Tom really stuck.  From a business standpoint he was my best customer and the most consistent.  His designs were fabulous and had longevity.  First with CPT then with Stearns Computers, onto Moniterm Corp, DataCard, Teradyne, and a number of companies he consulted with, I still make a significant amount of components for the products he designed.  Through the years I had become a trusted confidant and friend.  Starting in 1998 until he was laid off at Teradyne in 2009, Tom and I would have lunch together at least 3 times a week, every week.  Teradyne was located a mile from my work which made for a convenient rendezvous.  That's many hours of getting to know your friend.  Our two big fishing events were the week between Christmas and New Year renting an ice house on Mille Lacs as well as our annual Fourth of July outing with the intent on watching the Garrison Fireworks Show while on the lake.  Along with our friend Tom McAtee we always had a great time and sometimes even down right dangerous!   Tom never like venturing on ice regardless of the thickness and it was quite a chore to talk him into the first ice scenario's.  As you see here Tom was a big man and probably had more to fear than Mr. McAtee and I in that department.  Either way he was the consummate outdoorsman who loved hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, and would rather rough it than enjoy the luxury of a comfortable bed, boat, or weather.  Here is my favorite picture of him with his ever present camo boonie hat, field jacket, shorts, and that impeccable smile.  This might even have been the largest smallmouth bass he had ever caught. 

The most difficult part of this is the fact that Tom, after a prolonged period of setbacks, personal issues, and depression, took his own life.  It is very hard to even discuss this however I feel that this post would not be complete without the whole story.  I think one of the best sentiments was written by my good friend Dale Stenseth, one of Tom's co-workers at a couple of companies he worked for.  Here are the excerpts:  "Yesterday, I attended a memorial gathering for a former coworker. He was also a Viet Nam era veteran, 4 years younger than me. While we remember those who have died in wars, we give less recognition to those who returned, particularly those who are wounded in body or mind. Many suffer from depression and other afflictions, like substance abuse and gambling. His demons finally became more than he could bear. Perhaps he had the last laugh. I had not talked with him in nearly a year. As is often the case for survivors, I feel guilty, as if I had somehow neglected him, even though I know I could not have saved him or changed his path.  I will remember Tom as a kindly person with a smile." 

Depression is a disease that like cancer can rip the life out of one's soul.  It is difficult to affect a person who is close to you unless they are willing to let you into their heart.  Those who were close to Tom and his struggles agree, we stood by him till the end, never giving up on our friend yet understanding that although our efforts failed, we still loved him to the end.  Our lives have been made better by our friendship with Tom, and even though our future maybe short one less friend, he has given the gift of resolve to always try to make our lives and those of others a better place.  Life is never fair as all of us have our examples.  The last picture was taken one October perch fishing while it was freezing cold.  Tom was never one for words and gave me the big hint, he was cold, let's go.  I made him stay, something I wish I could say today.  Love you buddy!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Final Tally

As always Team Walleye organizer, Ron Edberg sent me the finally tally on the number and length distribution of our walleye catch on Leech Lake last week.  The numbers pretty much tell the whole story of a tough bite for opener. For 2012 the total number of walleyes caught over 12 inches amounted to a paltry 97 fish.  With 21 guys fishing this year it only amounts 4.62 walleyes per guy for the 3 days and .77 fish per guy per session (6 sessions).  Comparing the 2011 catch of 251 fish with the same amount of guys and the 2009 catch of 389 walleyes, slow is probably an understatement.  One thing a tough bite does is bring out ones creativeness.  As I stated last week, one can never leave an unproductive spot too early.  For me this meant moving around quite frequently.  Whether it's Pine Point, Stoney Point, Ottertail Point, Goose Island, Big Hardwoods, Little Hardwoods, Star Point, or my secret location I spent enough time at each of these traditional fishing locations to determine the best strategy.  Trolling Raps at dusk and fishing the deeper structures were the key to bringing walleye in my boat with 22 caught.  Out of 7 boats, Team Anderson produced 23% of the fish caught, not to bad as I attribute it to hard work, a good strategy, and having great fishermen in my boat to help with the task.   One of the interesting facts revealed by the graph is the linear distribution of the fish size.  From 12 inches minimum to the 27.5 inch winning fish there is a straight line between them.  This indicates that the year classes caught are evenly distributed with the population being well balanced. 

Here is the official Team Walleye 2012 group picture in front of the new cabin.  All of the guys are great, some seasoned fisherman and some that may have never caught a walleye.  There are a few that will fish with me throughout the year and some I will not see again until next year.  If you click on the picture it will load up and you should be able to read the names.  Quite a crew if I say so myself.  Of particular note is my younger brother Jon, the last guy on the right.  Life hasn't been exactly fair to him as he a number of surgeries to take care of a genetic condition that has caused the loss of his right eye, had tissue transplants, and extensive reconstruction of the area beneath what once was his nose.  A trip like this would normally be out of his reach so my other brother Steve and I decided to invite him with a few years back as our guest.  This year Jon fished every session and is a full blown Team Walleyer.  If we can just get him from winning the DCS award next year, it would be a huge accomplishment.  Maybe the fact that he fishes with Steve may severely handicap him.  I think Steve and I will have to have a discussion about his guiding capabilities!

As I write this post the rain gauge outside says 5.25 inches.  This is basically what has fallen in the last 24 hours.  The Mississippi River behind the house is really coming up and I am sure Mille Lacs is also moving higher.  Traditional this is the week the garden gets planted however it looks more like a mud hole than a garden.  The Mille Lacs walleye bite is in full swing with reports of 40 - 50 fish per outing.  The plan is to get up there on Sunday and see if the reports are correct.  I have committed to fish the Minnesota Tournament Trail (MTT) again this year on behalf of the Eric Applen Fund to see if Mark and I can score in the money.  Last year we got a little greedy so we definitely have a better plan this year.  Happy Memorial Day and take the time to honor those who have served.  For me it includes my Dad (Air Force), Uncle Keith (Navy), Cousin Jerry Ystad (Vietnam), and Rich Allen (Army Airborne).  Thanks for your sacrifices, you will not be forgotten.  Here is a picture of my dad at the age of 17, just out of basic training....good looking guy.  I guess I was blessed more with his brains than his looks!  God bless all of our veterans and service members.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Well, That's Why They Call it Fishing!

Well, the official 39th annual Leech Lake Opener for Team Walleye is now just a memory.  The bite was considerably worse than I expected but like my title says, that's why they call it fishing instead of catching!  Actually it's not that we didn't catch any fish but to say that the bite was tough is an understatement.  The early ice out, cold April, and the enormous lake fly hatch that occurred on the lake this weekend all had an influence on our success.  I don't have the exact numbers yet and will post them as soon as Ron sends them.  There were a lot of positives from this year's trip including a surprise upgrade from our previous 5 cabin arrangement to the brand new log cabin duplex that slept 10 each side, was connected, and had a total of 10 toilets and 8 showers.  Everything from balconies to luxurious beds, Cabins 2 and 3 made us forget about the amount of work needed to assure we had enough fillets for the Sunday night fish fry.  The exciting news is we have secured the same accommodations for next year's opener which will celebrate our 40th year at Leech Lake.  Unfortunately that time will come way too fast these days.  For me the catching was very much uneventful with my largest fish, a 28 inch northern pike pictured, fooling me into believing I had the trophy in the bag.  Truth be told my largest walleye was about 19 inches and the total was 11walleye's for the entire weekend.  I still managed to take 3 honors, top total individual points at 22 (2 points per fish), top draft team,  and #1 Boat Team which is awarded to the captain that had  the most walleyes caught in his boat.  Being the recipient of these awards in the past I do work hard for the guys that fish with me and look for strategies that prevent me from continuing to fish unproductive locations and patterns.  As far as the draft award, we have an interesting and fun event which happens Sunday morning.  After Saturday's results are in and points are assessed we have a fishing draft, sort of like the NFL does but in reverse.  Here the guy with the lowest score gets to pick who's boat he wants to fish in.  6 boats participate and with 3 per boat we have 2 rounds.  12 guys draft and once a boat is chosen it cannot be picked again till the second round.  I was picked first by Matt Taylor then by Kevin in the second round.  We had a great time and put 6 fish in the boat for top honors.  Both Kevin and Matt won a #5 Shad Rap in the new Helsinki color for picking the top boat for the Sunday morning session.

The Monday night session is our last time on the water.  Since my brother Steve started bringing his boat my partners have been pretty random.  While getting ready to go fishing, 2 guys that I had never fished with before walked up to the boat and asked if they could join me, Jeremy and Lurch (Adam). Thinking this could be interesting, a couple of younger guys wanting to fish with me.......of course, come aboard.  Immediately they were informed we were heading to my secret spot, looking for the big fish winner.  A deep reef some 7 or so miles from the resort, I had discovered this 2 years ago when an early spring sent the walleyes deep.  They probably thought I was off my rocker but were willing to take the gamble.  Having been there earlier in the day the walleyes were hugging the bottom like a carp sucking snails.  Upon arriving the marks on the Lowrance showed a few fish 2 feet off the bottom which usually indicates more aggressive fish.  Within 15 minutes Jeremy nailed this beautiful 27.5 inch walleye.  In the history of Team Walleye only once did someone catch a 27.5 inch fish......this one was destined to be the trophy winner as I knew the tough bite would be almost impossible to match this fish.  I was right as he took the Big Fish Trophy for 2012.  It gets even better as Lurch caught a 26 inch fish about 10 minutes later that took 2nd place.  For Jeremy, this was the 3rd walleye he had ever caught so I was pretty pumped.  At my age it's getting to be much more fun to see others enjoy things catching these nice fish and helping them do so.  Fabulous Fish guy!!  So all in all it wasn't a bad trip as my boat racked up the Team Award, Individual Points Award, Top Draft Team Award, Biggest Fish Award, and Second Biggest Fish Award.  It has stopped being about me and shifted to what I can do to help others, honestly it's a lot more fun.

So I will leave you with a gorgeous Leech Lake sunset.   This was taken from my secret spot looking west toward Ottertail Point.  I love sunsets, the vivid colors and the serenity of the conclusion to another wonderful day of fishing.  As always it ends way to soon yet along with that comes more memories as well as things to look forward too.  A special thanks to Brindley's Harbor for making our stay an experience of a lifetime.  To my friends Mark Mayerich and Ron Edberg for arranging a great time as always.  Of course I cannot end without commenting on the Minnesota Bound segment about Team Walleye.  They already have it posted online at  We are the first segment starting at 1:30 into the video and all of us were pretty satisfied with the job that Ron Schara Productions presented.  I hope that you enjoy the piece as well as we did!  This week is dedicated to helping my friend Mark Taylor install a Humminbird Sonar/Chart system into his large cabin cruiser then on Saturday we will haul it to Lake Minnetonka for it resting place for the summer.  Sunday is suppose to rain so a little family activities are scheduled.  I've already power washed the Ranger and rumor has it the bite on Mille Lacs is hot.  It will just have to wait till Memorial weekend.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Team Walleye on MN Bound

Checking the Minnesota Bound Facebook Page we were greeted with this teaser: "This weekend on MN. Bound, the magic of Minnesota's Fishing Opener. If you think this grand tradition is all about catching something, you'd be wrong. It's more like a reunion on water!".  Along with a picture of my good friend, Mark Taylor, it looks like Team Walleye will finally get the fame we have been waiting a full year for this coming Sunday's show.  Minnesota Bound is a locally produced television program by Ron Schara, Minnesota's beloved outdoor writer.  At one time he was the main outdoor sports columnist for the Star/Tribune, our Minneapolis newspaper.  I remember back about 1985 he wrote an article about spearing fish through the ice.  At that time correspondence meant writing a letter, addressing an envelope, adding a stamp and hope it arrives.  Two weeks later I actually got a response, personally signed by Ron himself.  That made quite an impression on me especially when his first comment was "Thanks for the lecture."!?! Anyway I still have his letter and appreciate and continue to be a big fan.  If you have access to the Minneapolis television station KARE 11, it will air on Sunday night, May 13th at 10:35.  You can also catch the episode in about 2 weeks on their website  Here's hoping they did a great job! 

The sticker on the right has been printed and distributed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.  Apparently in an effort to control Aquatic Invasive Species such as Asian carp, zebra mussels, spiny water fleas and whatever else has invaded our environment, the DNR decided this sticker will be the beginning of a long punitive process that allows you to be fined for doing nothing.  Right now it is illegal to trailer your boat with the drain plug in and doing so will result in a $150 fine.  Personally I have a big issue with the approach as it's like giving me a ticket for speeding while I haven't even started my truck.  Sure, I leave my plug in my boat, does that mean I am spreading invasive species?  The reality is  there are probably enough people out there oblivious to the current situation however I find it interesting that we are treated as common criminals and we haven't even don anything yet!  Oh well, the government will protect us all.  Sorry for the rant but this one strikes a nerve.  So the purpose of the sticker is two fold (literally).  The top part must be present in the interior of your boat and presentable upon request by a conservation officer or some other person in authority.  Because it's  ugly I have mine stuck to the bottom side of my storage compartment lid, and is acceptable.  The bottom part that looks like a construction sign is to be placed on your boat trailer, close to the winch.  I bet the DNR spend a few hundred thousand dollars printing these decals out.  Well last week our efficient legislator and Governor passed a new AIS law which invalidated this sticker.........go figure.  With a host of new laws starting July 1st, now it's a real mess.  For instance, I cannot take the leeches that are in water from home out of the boat when I leave the landing without first dumping it out then replacing it with water I brought from home to refill.  Huh???  Apparently someone trusts that the water I brought from home is really water I brought from home.  It should be an interesting fishing season and hopefully I can avoid being thrown in jail for insulting an officer, uffda!!!

The other good news is Brindley's Harbor asked if we would mind if they upgraded our accommodations for the weekend.  They have a brand new log cabin duplex that sleeps 10 on each side, has 5 bathrooms per, 2 refrigerators, washer/dryer, and are simply beautiful.  It took about 1 second to make that decision.  I am really looking forward to this weekend, a chance to see my friends and family, and catch some fish.  The weather looks fantastic and the fish on Leech Lake should be done with their post spawn phase and have the feedbag on.  Next weeks post should be a duzy.  Don't forget to check out our segment on Minnesota Bound.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Happy New Year

Happy New Year?!?!?!  OK, the calendar new year is January 1st, Chinese New Year is usually in February, and Fishin" With Dave's New Year is May 1st.  I started writing this blog in May of 2008 as a way to chronicle my fishing adventures and whatever else came along.  In 2009 I was thinking about a special Christmas gift for my Dad and because he didn't have Internet, printing a book of this blog seemed like a great idea.  Well, this thought came to me in November and at that time I had over 18 months of posts. will take your URL and create a nice hard cover book for a base price plus so much per page after a certain amount.  Looking at all of my posts it quickly added up to about $150 so I decided to organize my blog based on fishing seasons (wow, did that make sense!).   Minnesota Fishing Opener begins in May and our fishing licenses expire on April 30th, seemed like a good plan and it would keep my cost for printing reasonable.  So here I am starting my 5th year blogging having never missed a week where I did not post.  Although my father has passed away I will print my 4th book, one for Mom, one for me and maybe a softcover for the office.  Sometimes I worry that Google will decide to exclude us freeloaders from their system and I would have nothing to show for all of my posting efforts.  It's still fun and I do have about 300 people a week coming into this site and sometimes I feel obligated yet when I get done with a post I am glad I continue to write.  I hope you enjoy it as well.
I am writing this from the airport soon to be on a plane to Denver.  This is my third straight week of flying out of Minneapolis and I am ready for Opener.  One thing Denver has that my last two destinations included is a Bass Pro Shop.  As stated earlier, I like their lure selection and they have some nice business casual clothes that are very comfortable.  It will probably kill me but I might have to make a stop, the third in 3 weeks.............Lord help me!  The Denver BPS has a fantastic seafood restaurant called Islamorada, named after the famous Florida Key with the same name.  There are 2 things about Islamorada that frustrates me; first is I always have a hard time pronouncing it correctly after I haven't said the word in a while.  It is a Spanish word meaning "purple island" and is pronounced aisle-a-more-AH-dah.  I keep wanting to start it with the word "is" and then get all screwed up.  When I finally get it right the name just flows from one's vocabulary yet maybe it's my Norwegian accent that prohibits me from getting it right every time, oh well.  The second thing that frustrates me is the fact that I would love to get back there and do some fishing as it doesn't get any better than that.  Watching fishing shows on Saturday and Sunday mornings, there is always a couple based in Florida.   Roland Martin often fishes out of Islamorada as well I have seen the guide we hired in Key West, Captain Steve Rodgers,  fishing Yellowtail, Sailfish, Grouper, and Tuna as well.  I love the area and look forward to getting back there some day.  As far as the restaurant itself, they serve great raw oysters on the half shell, something I could eat a couple dozen at a time.

It's been a goofy spring for sure.  April weather in March, March weather in April yet now that it's May we are full speed ahead.  My travel schedule has left little time to actually get out and fish however the reports have been spotty to begin with.  Because I have been gone most of the last 3 weeks, the weekends have been simply filled with trying to catch up.  I picked up my boat last Friday from Frankie's and what a wonderful job they did re-fitting my cover.  Saturday wasn't too nice so it gave me time to replace the line on a number of reels, shine up the boat, and start getting it ready for the big weekend.  I got to tell you the Ranger is looking pretty good right now!  She's vacuumed, waxed, polished, and ready to go.  I'd like to take her out this weekend but alas, another family commitment as my niece's son is getting first communion.   Zak is a pretty good kid and I have no problem sacrificing another weekend for him.  All bets are off starting May 11th however!  I'll tell you about that someday.  Anyway the flight attendant is telling me to shut this thing off so till next week have a great weekend, and if nothing else try to make someone else smile, it's pretty cool!   I'll leave you with a picture from the Opryland Hotel from last week, absolutely beautiful.